The topic of how young Nigerians navigate romantic relationships with their earnings is a minefield of hot takes. In Love Currency, we get into what relationships across income brackets look like in different Nigerian cities.
Oge (33) met Ugo (31) on Twitter in 2021. Two years and 30+ love emails later, they’re engaged and planning their future together on a combined income of ₦280k.
Occupation and location
Admin officer living in Lagos
I earn ₦80k.
Monthly and recurring relationship expenses
2022 birthday gifts: ₦20k
2023 birthday gifts: ₦30k
Occasional dates: ₦10 – 15k
Ajo savings: ₦30 – 40k
How did you meet your boyfriend?
We were Twitter mutuals who occasionally interacted on each other’s tweets. He’s a dietician, so one day in March 2021, he made a post about losing weight. I commented asking why he never talked about people trying to gain weight. He asked me to send a DM. I did and after a consultation, he gave me a meal plan.
He charges ₦15k for that but asked me to pay ₦5k because we were mutuals. I paid ₦3k upfront and planned to pay the ₦2k balance as time went on, but I never did. I also didn’t have time or money to afford the diet. Every time he followed up on my progress, I gave him an excuse for not starting yet.
He reached out to me about once a week for a month. So when I didn’t hear from him for two weeks, I decided to check up on him. He explained that he was busy, and I joked about him needing pampering. He asked if I was willing to take up the job. I said only if he applied via email. And that was the beginning of our cute emails to each other. They were random emails we sent to apologise, resolve arguments and express love.
I was a bit concerned he was almost three years younger than me, but that was easily forgotten as I got to know him. We started dating by the end of June.
How do you feel about the age gap now?
Apart from the bants — I joke that he doesn’t have respect for his elders while he tells me I’m an agbaya — the age gap is insignifcant and we respect each other.. Although, I try to ask occasionally if there are times he felt like I disrespected him because I’m older.
I’ve learnt to be expressive and intentional because of how open and accountable he is. He tells me everything, from how much comes into his account to what his coworkers did at work. It’s how we were able to cope when I was in Ghana.
I got a job as an admin officer at my uncle’s construction firm in Ghana just a month after we started dating, and I had to move.
How was life in Ghana?
It was actually pretty good. I was earning GH₵2k (₦160 – 180k depending on the exchange rate at the time of conversion). I lived in my uncle’s house and the company covered most of the transportation cost. I also bought perfumes from Nigeria to sell there.
Why did you come back to Nigeria?
I came to visit in September 2022, but someone I’d worked with previously reached out to me to help her oversee her business because she’d relocated. My uncle’s construction project had ended, so I decided to extend my stay in Lagos. I met my boyfriend’s family the following month.
Sort of. He met my mum and dad, and I met his as well. They already knew about me, but when I met them, there was a lot of scrutiny about my age. You know how the typical Nigerian thinks when a woman is past 30, it’s harder for her to conceive and impossible for her to be submissive when she’s older than you. None of those stopped Ugo from proposing in January though.
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How did that go?
It was a flop. He knows I hate public proposals, so he was planning a surprise at the beach with about three of my friends. Weeks before the day, his mum called me to ask about the engagement and why we chose the beach.
I was with him, so he heard the conversation and was livid. The day he actually proposed, it was via email. We had an argument earlier in the day and were barely speaking. I went to bed pretty upset with him, but when I woke up hours later in the night, I saw he’d sent messages to my phone asking me to check my email. We spent the night reading all the emails we’d sent to each other since we met, and the last one was him apologising and if I wanted to marry him, I should reply with a “Yes”. I did.
Do you have conversations about money?
Since 2021, when he was earning ₦80k, till now that he earns ₦200k, he’s been transparent about how much money comes in, goes out, and how much he saves. He knows how much I earn and I save too. We’re both part of an ajo. We save ₦30k each, and I try to save up to ₦40k in some months.
From your ₦80k salary?
It’s hard, but I try to stay within budget. I cook all my meals, and I don’t buy things for myself as often. I stay in my apartment most of the time, so I don’t spend a lot on transport.
How much money goes into the relationship?
We don’t really go out. Except for family events and church programmes, we’ve gone on about two dates at a restaurant under ₦15k. But the picnic date we had at the beach cost well over ₦20k because we bought snacks, drinks and fruits. I usually prefer we cook, watch movies and just gist indoors instead of eating out. Most of the money we spend is on gifts.
How often do you give each other gifts?
For his 30th birthday in January 2022, I got him a bracelet and a watch. I also got him a cake because he said he’d never gotten one. Everything was about ₦20k. I was still in Ghana during Valentine, so he sent a wig and dress through my mum who was coming to see me. He also randomly gets me bracelets, earrings, shoes or whatever he thinks I’d like when he sees them.
This year, I made a traditional outfit for him with slides to match for his birthday. I got the material from the market myself and made an ankara gift box, so everything cost about ₦30k.
I also got him two t-shirts, bracelets, a chopping block and wooden spoon set on my way from Ghana.
Do you have a financial safety net?
I saved a lot during my year in Ghana, so I have about ₦300k in my fixed deposit account.
What’s your ideal financial future as a couple?
Asides his practice as a dietician, Ugo has a packaged date palm business. We’re hoping to expand distribution to supermarkets after he gets it registered with NAFDAC. I also plan to quit my current job in March, so I’m looking to get a better paying job, probably one remote as a virtual assistant. We’re praying and hoping something good happens because we can’t possibly start a family on our current income.
If you’re interested in talking about how money moves in your relationship, this is a good place to start.